We celebrated Junior J turning seven over the weekend with a small party. We had decided to throw the party on an earlier date, so that his Godmother could attend, and I was also worried that baby might come along anytime soon!
This turned out to be the simplest parties we've ever thrown for the kids. For those who have been following this blog for awhile, you know how we do parties: DIY decor, handmade party packs, simple games, and hearty fare. We like things simple, but the crafter in me cannot resist throwing in some decorations and DIY projects, but it's always done on a shoestring budget. I've shared about how we've learnt that parties are not just about celebrating someone turning a year older, but also about thanking our loved ones for being with us for this journey of witnessing our children growing up.
This time round though, I was just too exhausted from the pregnancy and everything that was going on, so I had a chat with Junior J and told him that we would not be doing much in terms of decorations for his party. I felt terrible, since Junior J loves planning for parties, and has been my main helper for preparing for them, from making a bus for his brother's party to packing party packs. The boy was slightly disappointed, but sweetly told me it was ok. But he did ask if we could have party packs for his friends, to thank them for coming.
Of course I said yes to that! The boy had requested for an animal theme this round, and asked me to ask his friends' parents about their kids' favourite animals. We bought kraft shopping bags from Daiso, and he drew the animals on each paper bag, and filled each with some snacks as well as a set of oil pastels. He wasn't too sure about drawing some of the animals, so we googled for step-by-step instructions for some of them, which he followed.
Aside from the party packs, he had one more request. Or rather, it came out as a question: "Will you decorate the blackboard wall for the party, Mama?"
And so I did.
I've been doing these blackboard birthday greetings for the past two years, ever since we painted the wall in our entryway with chalkboard paint. Little did I know how much the kids enjoyed this little gesture, of waking up and seeing birthday greetings scrawled across the wall for their party! I guess it's really these little things that matter.
Unfortunately though, Lil J fell pretty sick the day before the party. The older two had been a little under the weather for the past few days, and Lil J suddenly worsened the night before, and was coughing and wheezing. Our hands were tied: we had ordered two large platters of sushi from Sakuraya, and we had already collected the birthday cake from Cedele. We couldn't postpone the party to the next weekend as the hubby couldn't make it, and I was worried about baby's arrival too.
We texted our friends to inform them. One couple had a young baby, so we regretfully told them it would be safer to stay home for baby's sake. Another couple were a little worried, but did not want to disappoint the birthday boy, so they gamely said they would bring the kids. The other adults all said they would still come. We decided the best option was to ask the kids to wear masks, and our friends got their kids to agree to wear masks and make it a game so that no one would feel strange. Even Baby J asked to wear a mask, after he saw everyone wearing masks!
My heart was so so full the day of the party. It was a smaller turn-out, but to see all our friends coming down to celebrate with Junior J, despite the possibility that they might catch a bug... that reminded me again about why we throw parties. It's about the people, and not how pretty the cake is. It's about meeting together to celebrate, and not about how nice the decorations are. (So for those who came, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't tell you how much it meant to this little boy!)
So we didn't have games. But the kids were kept busy learning how to fold and fly paper aeroplanes (thanks to Junior J's Godfather). And they happily played together, never mind that they had to wear masks. Junior J learnt that day to be a good host. He had to serve drinks and look out for his little guests, and also learnt how he sometimes had to give in, so that everyone could feel included during playtime. I was very proud of him that day. I was also very thankful for my parents, who helped to watch out for the younger kids so that we could chat with our friends.
We had a simple spread of sushi, fishballs and nuggets, all requested by the birthday boy. The hubby, though having a splitting headache, went out before the party to collect everything, and I was thankful for a hands-on Papa like him. Junior J got the chocolate cake he wanted too (which he reminded me had to be eggless so that his brothers could share in it too), and I made a little Perler dinosaur topper to decorate the cake. This boy has always been making Perler bead creations for his brothers, but they are too young to make any for him, so I thought I'd do one just for him for a change!
There were no other decorations this time round. No streamers, not birthday bunting, and we didn't even hang up balloons, but let the kids run wild with them. But all in all, it was how birthday parties should be: about family and friends, gathering to feast and celebrate together. Happy birthday in advance, my dearest boy!